Friday, October 24, 2008

Skate America Report 1

Okay...long long day! Understand that this post may be long...sorry in advance!

I decided to get up early and go visit family I have here in the area. My day began in Seattle, (West Seattle to be exact) and I had an early excursion to Hamilton Viewpoint Park where I took some lovely shots of the Seattle Skyline!

After an early brunch it was off to Everett and Comcast Arena for the competition. Comcast Arena seems to be the perfect size venue for an event like Skate America. The vendors, shops, booths and all are very neatly spaced around the arena and the event has been on time to the tee. Somewhere, some event organizers should be patting themselves on the back...job well done.

The Compulsory Dance (CD) was the first event of the competition and no big surprises at all. All the teams gracefully slipped around the ice to the Viennese Waltz. Summersett and Gilles turned in a respectable if a bit timid CD and are in 8th place. This is their first major international event as seniors so to not be in last place is an accomplishment. The other young American team of Samuelson and Bates find themselves in 5th, however they are very much still in medal contention. The french team of Carron and Jost snuck in for 4th place after a CD that had very deep curves and good flow. The top three bumped it up a notch with very good CD's. The Kerr's looked very confident and had quite a cheering section in the crowd...there were plenty of Scottish and British flags in the crowd. John had a tinsy/tiny balance check which I think put them back a couple of points but they were very good. I have to admit I held my breath during Tanith and Ben's CD...I just kept thinking, please don't fall! They didn't and turned in a flawless CD...trouble is, so did the French team of Delobel and Schoenfelder and the judges gave the nod to the reigning World Champs. Very....VERY close at the top however, less than a point.

Between the break between the CD and the pairs and men's short program I did a little checking around the shops around the arena and noticed one pizza shop had actually posted a long banner on the side of the building, I thought it was the funniest thing...Welcome Skate America, Pizza By the Slice! I also did my patriotic duty and went and saw the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln which has recently put back to port in Everett from duty in the Middle East. Those naval vessels are massive...I don't understand how such a thing can stay afloat!

Back to the Arena just in time to find a long line of people...I'm the type of person who sees a line of curious people...I'm gonna get in it! And quite to my pleasure at the end I found Kimmie Meissner and Rachael Flatt! After greeting both I gave them strict orders too, along with Mirai, sweep the ladies competition (I know that goes against my predictions but that's what I really want to happen!). They then obliged by signing my program! Back to my seat to watch the Zamboni finish cleaning the ice (I think the same guy just travels the nation cleaning ice...all the Zamboni ice cleaners look the same too me!) and watch as the opening ceremonies took place. First the Tuallip Tribe welcomed everyone by performing a spiritual dance and then a group of local skaters had this really cool opening number, quite good.

The pairs short program was a bit weird to me. Yankowskas and Coughlin didn't do too shabby but they'll need to do better to pull up. Inoue and Baldwin had big struggles. On the side-by-side jumps John only did a double...then Rena fell on the throw triple axel which was downgraded to a double. Finally, I felt they lost some steam at the end of the program and find themselves 16 points off the lead...7 off a medal. I was even surprised they tried the throw triple axel in the short, they never even warmed up a throw jump! Duhamel and Buntin of Canada got edged for third by McLaughlin and Brubaker. Keauna and Rockne had problems with the throw triple loop after landing a gorgeous one in the warm-up. They have a great program however with fantastic choreography set to 'Malaguena.' In second, and quite to my surprise, are the Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy. The only big flaw in their program came when Robin double his triple toe but I have to say the music is awful. It's this techno 'Speed Racer' thing that just drones on and on and on and never ends. They need to fix this! The leaders are the Russians Mukhortova and Trankov who gave a clinic on how to do Pairs skating. They were fast, clean, great unison, lyrical, perfect stretch, the quintessential Russian pair. For them to win this would be a bit of an upset!

And the men were last. Adam Rippon did not fair well. After landing lots of triple axels in the warm-up, he fell on the one in the program. He also missed his planned triple/triple and settled for a triple/double instead. Add in a held-onto landing on his lutz and that meant 8th place...ouch. Alexander Uspenski slid into 7th and above him Shawn Sawyer in 6th. For me, the two biggest surprises of the night are the guys in 5th and 4th. Adrian Schultheiss is in 5th after an energetic techno program that got the crowd behind him and in 4th place is one of the upstarts from Canada, Kevin Reynolds, who was the only skater to land a quad...he landed a gorgeous quad salchow/triple toe combo! The top three have nicely separated themselves from the pack (13 point spread between 3rd and 4th) but it's a horse race between them. In third is Japan's Kozuka who had the short program of his life! It was cool and easy and he hit his personal best. Lysacek answered with a fantastic skate of his own...he did take out the quad after Kozuka posted a high number without (I think not wanting to miss it than be in trouble) it. Weir was the last to skate and turned in a very very good program, he did two foot his triple flip, which put him in second behind just barely and ahead of Takahiko...just barely. It's very close among the three of them.

Tomorrow is a new day and the much anticipated ladies competition gets underway. Can't wait! Also, I'm planning on putting all the pics that I'm taking (lots!)into an online album for all my readers to enjoy...more on that later.

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